Quick and Easy Creamy Seafood Stew

Much as I want to forge ahead with posting recipes from the birthday banquet, I really should finish up the Cupboard Challenge recipes first.  After all, one purpose of this blog is to help me practice discipline, to learn to see one project through before flitting off to another 😉

This seafood stew, from day eight of the challenge, used up some odds ‘n’ sods of fishy things from the freezer – a hot-smoked salmon fillet, a handful of king prawns and a bake-in-the-bag cod thing bought by Barn on an occasion when he’d been left to fend for himself.  You can easily amend the recipe according to what you have available.

To serve two

A glug of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
A small portion of frozen peas
A really good slug of white wine. In fact, make it two.
300ml chicken stock (or even better, fish stock)
2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed to a paste with cold water
Approx. 400g mixed seafood (if frozen, defrosted; if fillets or large pieces, cut into chunks)
Approx. 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
A pinch of fresh thyme leaves
About half a tub of crème fraîche
Lots of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt

Ready to make an easy, satisfying dinner?  Ok then, let’s get cracking…

Carrot, celery, onionHeat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion, carrot and celery on a low heat, for 10-15 minutes, until soft but not brown.

GarlicAdd the crushed garlic and cook for another minute or so.

Frosty peas

Toss in the frozen peas.  They don’t have to be as frosty as these ones.White wineGlug in the wine and simmer on a high heat until reduced to about half.

Pour in the stock, add the cornflour mix, turn up the heat slightly and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until sauce has thickened.

SeafoodSeason, then add the seafood…

Chopped herbs…and thyme, and most of the parsley.

creme fraicheSimmer for a few more minutes, until fish is piping hot, then stir in the crème fraîche.

Creamy Seafood StewHeat gently for a another minute, just to bring the temperature back up, then scatter with the remaining parsley.  Add more black pepper.  Serve with buttered, crusty bread.

Hot-smoked salmon fish cakes

I made these to use up the trimmings after making some mini hot-smoked salmon en croute but off cuts can be bought, really cheaply, either from a fishmonger or pre-packaged in supermarkets.Ingredients

To make 4 standard or about 10 mini fish cakes

250-300g hot-smoked salmon broken into flakes (to be clear: the salmon should have been hot-smoked but the fish you are using should be cold!).
150-200g cold cooked potato
Juice and rind of half a lemon
Approx. 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper
For coating
1 beaten egg

MashedIn a medium sized bowl, use a fork to lightly mash the potato.

Add all other ingredients and combine well.

Naked cakes

Use your hands to shape the mixture into patties.  Chill for 20-30 minutes (or bung in the freezer for 10).Breaded cakes

Put your breadcrumbs into one bowl and the beaten egg into another.  Dip each patty, one at a time, first into the egg and then the breadcrumbs.  Make sure they’re completely covered.Oven bakedBake in the oven at gas mark 6/200°C/400°F until they are piping hot and golden brown.  That would take a little less time than these particular mini ones were baked for…so probably about 15-20 mins.

Serve with proper chips and rugged peas.

Perhaps you can help to pin down the timing a little more precisely…how long did yours take? 😉



Mini hot-smoked salmon en croute

This is on the menu as part of the eight course meal planned for Big Sis’s birthday.  As I’m planning to cook them from frozen on the night I thought it a good idea to make some in advance to test out the recipe and to work out the cooking time.

Although I made 10 of these, the recipe below is to serve 4.

Olive oil
A knob of butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
75g baby spinach, roughly chopped
Approx.  4 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
75g watercress, roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
125g black pepper roulé (or cream cheese with loads of black pepper added)
4 hot-smoked salmon fillets
300g-ish (depends on the size of your fillets) flaky pastry
1 egg, beaten

Chopped spinach, watercress and parsley

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/400°F, and line a large baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little olive oil.

Heat the butter and a splash of olive oil in a pan over a low heat; sauté the shallots for around 6-8 minutes until soft but not coloured.

Add the spinach, parsley and watercress, together with the lemon zest and juice.

Cooked chopped spinach, watercress and parsley

Cook down the leaves for 3–5 minutes, then tip into a sieve set over a bowl.  Press to squeeze out juices and leave to cool.Black pepper roule

Using a fork, mash the roulé in a medium sized bowl.  Add a good grating of fresh nutmeg, then mix in the cooled spinach mixture.  Adjust seasoning to taste.


If you’re looking for a  puff pastry recipe, I’m sorry, but you’ve come to the wrong place.  Shirley Conran declared that life’s too short to stuff a mushroom; it’s my belief life is way too short for making flaky pastry.  This French brand is fabulous but there are plenty of other ready made numbers that do the job just as well.Salmon fillets with toppingRemove the thin end of the salmon and trim, if necessary, to create evenly sized fillets (keep the trimmings for making fish cakes).

Spoon a thick layer of the spinach mixture onto each fillet.

Take just under half of the pastry (roll, if not pre-rolled) and cut four pieces, each around 1.5cm larger than the salmon fillets (my margins were not quite large enough.

Place, evenly spaced, onto the prepared tray.  Lightly moisten the edges of each piece with water, then pop the topped salmon fillets on top.

Salmon fillets wrapped in pastry

Take the remaining pastry and cut into four pieces (they should be slightly larger than the first four).

Lay the pastry over the salmon fillets, mould around the fish with your hands, then press the edges with a fork to seal. Score the top with a knife and brush all over with beaten egg. baked

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20–25 minutes (35-40 mins if cooking from frozen), or until the pastry is crisp.

Triple fishWe had this as part of a fish trio, served with rugged peas, home made chips, and tartar sauce, although ‘traditionally’ it would be served with new potatoes, steamed veg and watercress sauce.

How would you have yours?



The food week that was – 23/02/15

Happy St. David’s Day people of Wales!

Each year, this day brings back abundant memories of being at primary school in a tiny Welsh village …in particular, being issued with a choice of leek or daffodil to wear for the day.  The older kids always went with a leek, preferably one so large it had to be worn cross-wise on the chest, with a phalanx of pins required to keep it there.  This would then be nibbled and gnawed throughout the day, much to the chagrin of the head teacher, who felt it to be utterly disrespectful to the patron saint.  End of day prayers and gratitudes would be chanted by around 20 children sporting leek roots on their now out of shape jumpers.

Back to modern times, no raw leeks were consumed this week.  The following dishes were though:

Roast pork shoulderMonday: Most people have a Sunday roast but because we were too busy lazy to cook it on Sunday, we had a Monday roast instead.

Pork shoulder with a honey, rosemary and garlic glaze,  braised red cabbage with apple and cranberries, roast potatoes, steamed carrots, Petit Man’s awesome cauliflower cheese with leeks, and gravy that was perked up with a splash of red wine.  Right up there in the yumminess charts.

Brisket wrapsTuesday: The previous night we’d taken some pulled brisket from the freezer with no plan as to what to do with it.  When dinner time came all of us were tired and can’t-be-botheredish, so once again we trod the path of least resistance and went for wraps made thusly:

Fry up onion, garlic and strips of green peppers; add shredded beef and heat thoroughly.  Generously spread a tortilla wrap (in this case herb and garlic ones) with chilli ketchup and top with grated cheese (we used a mix of Monterey Jack, mozzarella and extra mature farmhouse cheddar – but that’s just because it was what we had in the fridge!).  Grill until cheese has melted.  Watch the tortilla edges very carefully – they wait ’til they think you’re not looking then hurriedly burn themselves.  Remove from grill, add beef and veg, top with soured cream and fire-roasted chillies, roll, cut and eat.  Simples.Fish and chipsWednesday: Using my unholy influence* upon Barn, I created in him a desire for fish ‘n’ chips that was so strong he was unable to resist stopping off on the way back from the gym to pick some up.  Mwahahaha!

The batter on the fish was superb – crispy, fresh and not harbouring oil wells.  The chips were top notch and the mushy peas finished it off nicely.  Eaten straight from the paper watching trash TV this was a truly satisfying meal.

* Until now you’ve probably been blissfully unaware that I am, apparently, the anti-Christ.  I have been publicly denounced as such by a someone ‘in the know’.  I’ll tell you the story if you ask me to ;-).

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